Day 1: Trump’s lawyers mislead, and keeping an eye on GOP lame ducks

Lesley Becker

For only the third time in US history, the president of the United States faces a trial in the Senate for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It’s a historic occasion — and for the duration of the trial, the Globe’s opinion and editorial writers will be offering their takes on the proceedings. If President Trump is convicted, he would become the first president ever removed from office for misconduct. Day 1 dealt with preliminary debates about the rules for the trial, which Democrats fear will let Republicans quickly move to acquit Trump without hearing all the evidence and calling witnesses, and also saw both sides preview their arguments for and against removing the president.

THE PRESIDENT’S WRONG-MEN: Trump’s lawyers showed up in full denial at the Senate on Tuesday to present their opening remarks in the impeachment trial, with Pat Cipollone, White House counsel, claiming the president had done nothing wrong. Then Jay Sekulow, an outside Trump counsel, had the audacity to state, falsely, that the Mueller report found “no obstruction.” (Mueller stopped short of saying the president had obstructed justice, citing the limits of his remit, but meanwhile detailed incidents in which Trump had clearly tried to thwart the investigation.) All signs point to a trial where the president’s men will be more invested in performing political theater than clarifying the truth. — BINA VENKATARAMAN

WILL LAME DUCKS EVER SQUAWK?: One of the big disappointments of the House impeachment vote in December, which split along party lines, was that even retiring GOP House members fell in line behind President Trump. It’s at least understandable, if not exactly admirable, why a Republican member up for reelection in a red district might make a craven political calculation that he can’t afford to alienate the president. But the lame ducks don’t have that excuse. In the Senate, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Pat Roberts of Kansas, and Mike Enzi of Wyoming are all retiring at the end of this session. Alexander has reportedly been part of a small group of GOP senators pushing to prevent the trial from turning into a farce. Who knows — a show of bravery from the lame ducks might even give their non-retiring colleagues some inspiration. — ALAN WIRZBICKI